Texas Surgeon: an Autobiography Page: 67
This book is part of the collection entitled: Rescuing Texas History, 2010 and was provided to The Portal to Texas History by the University of Texas Health Science Center Libraries .
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some three fifths are men. In my day there were even fewer
Danville, so far as I recall, is renowned for only one thing,
Centre College excepted. At the beginning of the nineteenth
century, Ephraim McDowell settled here, a Virginian and
graduate of Edinburgh who was the first surgeon in our country's
history to perform major abdominal surgery. On the way to
the registrar's office, which I think was then housed in "Old
Centre," a very fine example of the classic revival style built
about 1820, I passed a statue of McDowell, set in a little park.
His eye, so to speak, was on me. It was a very grimly deter-
mined Atkinson who enrolled that day for courses in inorganic
chemistry, physiology, and comparative anatomy. Dr. Burnside
had recommended that I study more in the humanities, too, but
I was given notice that courses at Central were restricted to
preparation either for the ministry or medicine. Both poverty
and Scottish practicality dictated this limitation.
Here again Central authorities did everything within their
power to ease my way. I waited on table and served as houseman
in a dormitory. This paid my tuition and board, and I had just
enough laid by to eke out my other Spartan needs. Now at last
within sight of my goal, I worked like a drudge at my studies.
Perhaps too single-mindedly, for I did not do spectacularly well.
However, I did write a biology thesis that attracted a good deal
of attention, an accomplishment which for many years passed
completely from my mind until one day Central University,
now become Centre College, gave me an honorary degree.
Danville was a pleasant little town, much more southern in
character, I would say, than Louisville. But I could not wait to
return to the city and medical school. When my year was up, I
was admitted without difficulty to the Hospital School of Medi-
cine in Louisville and plunged into a course of medical instruc-
From the contemporary point of view, the prescribed course
of training may seem totally inadequate. And I would be the
Here’s what’s next.
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Atkinson, Donald Taylor. Texas Surgeon: an Autobiography, book, 1958; New York. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth143566/m1/79/: accessed January 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting University of Texas Health Science Center Libraries.